** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

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    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Interdisciplinary research


    Paleotsunami history of Hachinohe, northern Japan: A multiproxy analysis and numerical modeling approach

    Erick R. Velasco-Reyes, Kazuhisa Goto, Daisuke Sugawara, Yuichi Nishimura, Takahiro Shinohara, Takashi Chiba

    Paleotsunami deposits, Hachinohe, Japan Trench, Tsunami recurrence, Tsunami modeling, Computed Tomography, XRF

    A survey site (left), columnar sections (center), and dating results (right)

    Paleotsunami studies along the Pacific coast of Tohoku, northern Japan, have been considerably developed recently, particularly after the massive impact of the 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami. Nevertheless, in the southernmost Shimokita Peninsula, studies pertaining to paleotsunami are underdeveloped, leading to a vague understanding of the tsunamigenic sources northward of the Tohoku region, along with incomplete hazard evaluation. Paleotsunami deposits in Shimokita can be related not only to the Japan Trench along the Sanriku coast but also to the Kuril trench along the Pacific coast of Hokkaido. In this study, we unveiled the paleotsunami history of Hachinohe in northern Tohoku. Using a combination of sedimentological, geochemical, paleontological, and mineralogical proxies, we characterized seven sand layers that dated from ca. 2700 to ca. 5500 yr BP based on radiocarbon (14C) ages as event deposits of marine origin. Sedimentological and paleontological evidence coupled with ground-penetrating radar imagery revealed a marsh environment comprising successive extinct ponds, controlling the depositional environment. Numerical modeling ruled out the possibility of storms as genetic sources, leading to the conclusion that the presence of event deposits with marine sediments in the study area would be associated with tsunami inundation episodes. Based on 14C dating, the mean frequency of recurrence of tsunamis is estimated as 384 years (320–450 yr, 95% confidence interval) and a coefficient of variation of 0.78 (0.68–0.99, 95% confidence interval). The previously recorded limited paleotsunami evidence and absence of an estimated recurrence interval in the Shimokita Peninsula reaffirm the importance of Hachinohe as a tsunami record site for the activity of both trenches.